The power of a legal copywriter or ghostwriter
Shhhhh … Don’t tell everyone, but not every top lawyer writes all their own content.
Heads of state, politicians and celebrities frequently rely on a ghostwriter to produce a first draft or to polish off their own rough notes because, whatever the format, producing good content requires planning, time and skill.
Every lawyer knows the power of the written word to persuade a court, or to protect a client from risk in a contract. But drafting a lease or shareholder agreement requires a very different set of editorial skills to those required when writing for the media or the internet.
If you are wanting to raise the profile of your law firm or the expertise of your lawyers, then a legal copywriter or a ghostwriter will really add some power to your law firm content strategy. This is particularly true if you want to achieve new business growth from internet search.
What is the difference between a copywriter and a ghostwriter?
Both a legal copywriter and a ghostwriter can help you to produce expert legal content for a wide variety of purposes, but there are a few key differences:
A legal copywriter:
- produces content primarily for the purposes of sales and marketing;
- writes to a brief provided by their client;
- may or may not speak with lawyers or clients in the process; and
- the material is not usually attributed to any particular lawyer as an author.
A legal ghostwriter:
- produces content for a broader range of purposes, including speeches and presentations, as well as editorial features, chapters or books;
- writes in the name of a particular lawyer;
- fulfils a brief which is often set by an external publisher or event organiser;
- speaks and collaborates closely with the lawyer;
- adopts the tone and style and ‘voice’ of the lawyer; and
- keeps their own identity confidential.
What makes a good legal copywriter or ghostwriter?
Clearly legal expertise and experience is essential (although there is a surprising number of legal content writers out there with very little relevant experience), this is only one part in the set of skills required.
When Berners Marketing is recruiting legal authors to join our panel of copywriters and ghostwriters, applicants are asked to produce examples of their writing. It is not enough to know about the law because, for marketing purposes, the objective is not to educate readers about the law but to ‘demonstrate expertise and to stimulate potential clients to make an enquiry’. This requires a good deal of client-facing experience to know how the law operates in practice (not theory), and the risks and opportunities which will drive a potential client to seek legal advice and pay good money.
It is important for all legal content to be accurate and authoritative, but for it to have any impact online or in print, it also needs to be:
- in plain English and free of legalese;
- in a client-friendly, journalistic (non-academic) style;
- commercial; and
- optimised for internet search engines.
The best legal copywriters and ghostwriters bring all these skills to the table, and work alongside your law firm marketing team to deliver your content strategy.
Why is an editorial style guide important?
Without a common style guide for writing, a law firm’s marketing content is likely to be an inconsistent hotch-potch of material depending on who has written each piece. Style, tone and messaging will differ, and this fragmentation will do little to help you to build your brand.
An editorial style guide will help everyone to sing from the same hymn sheet, whether the content is produced internally by your partners, professional support lawyers or paralegals, or by external copywriters or ghostwriters.
It will provide a standard to which the proof reader (we trust you use one) will be able to edit all content.
The Berners Law Firm Marketing Style Guide has been developed after 15+ years of editing legal articles, blogs, newsletters, presentations and books. Inspired by the style guides of The Telegraph, The Economist and the BBC, and incorporating best practice from the Plain English Campaign, this guide has been developed specifically for anyone involved with marketing in the legal profession.
Updated regularly to include new words and phrases, our style guide also addresses common issues when writing about legal topics. For writers in the legal profession it serves as an essential reference guide to ensure client-friendly content for all marketing activities.
What content can be produced?
Our team of specialist authors at Berners Marketing are all experts in their respective legal practice areas, working alongside experienced legal journalists, editors and search engine optimisation (SEO) experts. With decades of experience between them, we have produced everything from tweets to whole books, including:
Books and book chapters – being asked to contribute to a book can be a huge honour, but also a huge burden. However, a ghostwriter can really help to lighten the load.
Speeches and presentations – can be brought to life by a fresh pair of eyes, and someone who can contribute creativity and presentational techniques.
Tenders and credentials – will benefit from a focus on how effectively the content shines a light on your expertise and your unique selling point.
White papers and thought leadership – often lawyers have important ideas, but it takes time to carry out research and distil these into media-friendly output.
Editorial features – if a newspaper, magazine or journal is looking for an expert comment or opinion, it needs to be well written and delivered on time and to their brief.
Website content – the pages which describe your services, your experience and your lawyer profiles are vitally important content which needs an understanding of SEO to be effective.
Blogs and news – a strategic approach to producing fresh, relevant content regularly is essential if you wish to generate online enquiries.
E-news and newsletters – keep your clients and contacts up to date with key legal developments and remind them how you can help.
What makes Berners Marketing different?
Our legal copywriters and ghostwriters are experienced solicitors, barristers or attorneys. They have access to key knowledge resources, and they work alongside our marketing team to deliver the optimal content strategy for a law firm.
Quality is at the heart of the Berners Marketing approach to content strategy and content production. Our legal copywriters and ghostwriters get consistently great feedback from the law firms that we work with, for example:
I have been using Berners articles for over two years now and I cannot recommend them enough. They are bang up to date, really well written articles that truly engage both existing and prospect clients and, when using them on right platforms, really do bring a good return on the small investment you pay for each one.
The articles really showcase our firm’s expertise and I use them on the website, social media and choose to boost the posts in our local area so that I can maximise their reach. I also use them in local press too where I can and for e-marketing.
For me it is a no brainer, I do not have to ask unwilling fee earners to write them (they are more interested in using that time to hit their targets and quite rightly so) and I have regular and fab content that keeps our firm in the minds of our existing, past and prospect clients.
Articles are well-researched and written and the team are always on hand with advice on tactics and strategies for extracting greater value from the content they provide. This has resulted in a wider exposure for our services, educating clients of their benefits, and increased audience reach, efficiently delivering organic website traffic, interactions with content and subsequent lead generation.
They not only make my job easier, but they help deliver on our wider client content journey.
For a no obligation informal discussion
If you have any questions about any aspect of marketing for your law firm or would like to discuss how we could help with your law firm content marketing strategy, please get in touch via the link below.
We are always happy to have an informal discussion with no obligation.